Black-Owned Tech Startups Offer Stock Options for Crowdfunding

startups

Minority-owned tech startups are turning to a new model to raise capital: equity crowdfunding, which gives investors equity ownership in the company.

Most crowdfunding is “rewards-based.” Investors earn “perks” for their contribution to a startup. Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have made this type of crowdfunding a commonplace way for startups to raise capital.

Funding Dreams

A new venture, DreamFunded, pairs those looking to invest in a company with founders seeking funds. It is a members-only crowdfunding platform. The DreamFunded team screens and vets all startups. Members, in turn, can select from the startups they wish to invest in, in many cases, for as little as $10.

Kevin Rivers, co-founder, and CEO of Bluurp, announced that his company will use DreamFunded to raise additional capital. Bluurp is a social media platform targeted to people of color that allow users to post messages across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn, as well as share videos from YouTube, songs from Spotify, and photos across Instagram, Pinterest, and Flickr, according to its website.

“We’re actually going to be launching our equity crowdfunding round of $100,000 on VC firm DreamFunded.com as soon as Nov. 8. We have been approved by the SEC to offer our securities via a CrowdSAFE note to everyone. Both non-accredited and accredited investors,” says Rivers. Bluurp is seeking investments starting at $60 and up.

Risk and Rewards

Carolyn Brown, Black Enterprise’s senior editor, small business, shares that equity crowdfunding makes it easier for startups to appeal to a broader base of investors under new federal rules.

“Essentially, non-accredited investors or individuals with a net worth or annual income of less than $100,000 can put up cash in startups under the new rules, which make up Title III of the JOBS Act. They can invest $2,000 or 5% of their annual income or net worth, whichever is less. Companies can now raise up to $1 million across state lines without prior approval,” writes Brown.

Another advantage is that investors of color have the opportunity to build personal wealth if the company he or she invests in flourishes and eventually goes public.

The risk is obvious; 90% of startups fail. Zero return on investment is a likelihood. However, DreamFunded seeks to minimize financial risk by offering low-cost investments and rigorously vetting the startups promoted on its platform.

 

Working Out at Work Improves Mental Health

working out

Half of all employers in this country now offer workplace wellness plans, designed to improve employees’ physical health. Now researchers at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA have discovered another upside to these plans: improved mental health.

For the study, researchers analyzed 281 participants in UCLA’s wellness program and found that at the conclusion of a 12-week fitness program, mental health improved by nearly 19%, compared to baseline levels measured at the beginning of the program.

“Many employers have started to question the value of such employee wellness plans, and have sought evidence that the financial investments in the plans can result in improvements in employee health and productivity that can be measured,” said Prabha Siddarth, a research statistician at the Semel Institute and the study’s lead author. “This study illustrates the potential benefits that have not been well-studied, and are not the focus of most wellness plans—the value that comes from improved mental health.”

The Bruin Health Improvement Program, modeled after CrossFit training and designed to strengthen a sense of community among participants, differs each day. Study participants completed a survey at the beginning and end of the program that measured physical and emotional health, vitality, social functioning, general health perceptions, bodily pain, and any limitations due to physical or emotional problems.

Researchers discovered that “participants showed strong improvements across all domains of mental health with sizable effects,” said David Merrill, a UCLA assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and a co-author of the study. For the overall mental health score, he noted, participants scoring at the 50th percentile on mental health, meaning “average” mental health, scored as high as the 69th percentile after participation in the wellness program.

Read more at www.blackhealthmatters.com…

Black Health Matters (BHM) is the leading patient and consumer-focused health information website for African Americans. BHM connects health information seekers to the highest quality health content on the web, shared via social media and disseminated at BHM community-based health events. Committed to making African American families healthier, BHM imparts expert advice on disease management while promoting healthier lifestyles. The result is a compelling health content experience that resonates within the cultural context of the user’s life.

Working Out at Work Improves Mental Health

working out

Half of all employers in this country now offer workplace wellness plans, designed to improve employees’ physical health. Now researchers at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA have discovered another upside to these plans: improved mental health.

For the study, researchers analyzed 281 participants in UCLA’s wellness program and found that at the conclusion of a 12-week fitness program, mental health improved by nearly 19%, compared to baseline levels measured at the beginning of the program.

“Many employers have started to question the value of such employee wellness plans, and have sought evidence that the financial investments in the plans can result in improvements in employee health and productivity that can be measured,” said Prabha Siddarth, a research statistician at the Semel Institute and the study’s lead author. “This study illustrates the potential benefits that have not been well-studied, and are not the focus of most wellness plans—the value that comes from improved mental health.”

The Bruin Health Improvement Program, modeled after CrossFit training and designed to strengthen a sense of community among participants, differs each day. Study participants completed a survey at the beginning and end of the program that measured physical and emotional health, vitality, social functioning, general health perceptions, bodily pain, and any limitations due to physical or emotional problems.

Researchers discovered that “participants showed strong improvements across all domains of mental health with sizable effects,” said David Merrill, a UCLA assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and a co-author of the study. For the overall mental health score, he noted, participants scoring at the 50th percentile on mental health, meaning “average” mental health, scored as high as the 69th percentile after participation in the wellness program.

Read more at www.blackhealthmatters.com…

Black Health Matters (BHM) is the leading patient and consumer-focused health information website for African Americans. BHM connects health information seekers to the highest quality health content on the web, shared via social media and disseminated at BHM community-based health events. Committed to making African American families healthier, BHM imparts expert advice on disease management while promoting healthier lifestyles. The result is a compelling health content experience that resonates within the cultural context of the user’s life.

A Guide to Local Content Marketing for Small Businesses

Close to Home: A Guide to Local Content Marketing for Small Businesses

A significant portion of Google searches relate to a specific location. People search for things like “pizza New York City” or “spa Daytona Beach” millions of times per day. That’s because location is just as important for your website as it is for real estate. Tagging your content with relevant local information can draw in a sea of new visitors and keep your page relevant longer.

The Unique Situation of Being Local

Building an online presence for a local company can be a bit challenging. The strategies are different for content creation. Since being local ties your company to a specific market, you’ll often see a smaller selection of topics and options.

A website’s bounce rate is a measure of how many people viewed only one page without clicking another link. Some companies will naturally have higher bounce rates, like news stations. Others struggle to keep them as low as possible. The more your website demonstrates local personalization combined with beautiful design, the more likely you’ll get your ratings where they need to be.

The Steps to Crafting Unique, Local Content Marketing for Small Businesses

Tailoring your subject matter doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, if you do some research ahead of time, you might find the entire process easier than you anticipated.

1. Identify the local audience. If you stay local, then you’re already narrowing the scope of your content and making it easier to find your audience. However, you should fine-tune it for consistency and relatability. Think about crafting buyer personas. These simple profiles offer imaginary people for whom to write. The result feels like very personalized content for anyone who meets the target audience requirements.

TOOLS: Try Facebook Audience Insights or Neilson Prizm to see specific information about your local demographics.

2. Examine the competition and your existing content. Another great way to find useful content types is to look at successful businesses. You can peruse their articles to see if any particular topics are popular. Likewise, you’ll get a good idea about what should be avoided to keep your audience happy.

Take the time to compare the content you already have. Look for things such as shares, comments and likes, which are easy indicators of the post’s exposure. If you seem to be doing better, great! If not, give your content another look. You also can take advantage of analytics to see which of your topics are performing the best.

TOOLS: For analytics, Buzzsumo and Google Analytics transform page views and interactions into usable information and statistics.

3. Redefine broad tactics to make them local. Just because you’re targeting a smaller audience doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of broad content strategies. In fact, adding a local twist to these proven methods is one of the easiest and most effective ways to create engaging local subject matter.

One simple way to accomplish this is by crafting unique headlines. Some formats are simply more successful than others and have proven themselves over and over. Use numbers or a “how-to” approach followed by a geographical keyword. For example, “7 Fun Things to Do During a Daytona Beach Vacation” or “5 Dates You Should Avoid Las Vegas.”

TOOLS: This style of heading is wildly popular among big-name entertainment sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy. Looking to them for inspiration can be incredibly helpful.

4. Look to the past for inspiration. If you’re really running low on ideas, check out past infographics from the town in question. In many cases, you can find data that’s already been fully researched. All you need to do is make sure it’s up-to-date and expand into the story to craft something interesting.

TOOLS: A Google image search, of course, yields high-volume infographic results.

Once you figure out what works in your local area, it will be easier than ever to add your personal touch and creative spin to the information. Do your research when choosing topics and titles — and you’re bound to see interest from your local patrons.

Local Shop Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “A Guide to Local Content Marketing for Small Businesses” was first published on Small Business Trends